Changes to the RTA May 2017

Three important changes were made to the Residential Tenancies Act in May that will offer better protection to both tenants and landlords; namely meth, damages and unlawful tenancies.

Better management of meth contamination, recognising that this has become a significant issue. Standards New Zealand is still working on acceptable contamination levels, and tenants now have the ability to terminate their tenancy if meth contamination levels are deemed unsafe / unhealthy. Quinovic Merivale has a meth policy that urges landlords to complete a base line meth test at the start of each new tenancy. This can be used to process insurance claims should a property become contaminated by meth. However Quinovic also stands by the premise that regular property inspections and detailed tenant screening go a long way in preventing this from happening in the first instance.

The RTA has implemented changes regarding damage ruling that landlords can’t recover costs of accidental damage from tenants including insurance excess charges. However, if the landlord can prove that the tenant deliberately caused the damage then they will be rewarded costs for remediation. This highlights the importance of completing a detailed property condition report along with many photos at the beginning of each tenancy. These can be used at tribunal to prove the tenants negligence and be awarded the costs of repair.

The RTA has also strengthened the law prosecuting landlords who tenant unsuitable properties such as garages, warehouses or industrial buildings as living spaces.